Tuesday, 16 December 2008

9 Days Coal- 4 years opencast mining- A lifetime of pollution!?!


Residents say no to new coal power
08 Dec Years of destruction for 9 days of power
YEARS spent plundering the landscape of Hartleyburn would only produce sufficient coal to run a power station for nine days, it has been claimed.

And now local residents say developer HM Project Development has its sights fixed so firmly on the money it would get for that 140,000 tonnes of coal, it is blatantly disregarding their fears and concerns.

HMPD has submitted an application to Northumberland County Council to extract the coal through opencast mining over a three and half year period from Halton Lea Farm, Halton Lea Gate.

But at a public meeting last Wednesday staged by the council and attended by over 100 residents, HMPD was accused not only of disregarding local concerns, but also of putting the health of local people – particularly young children – at risk.

Protesters decried the application – which is in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – saying it was unfair for HMPD to put them through years of disruption and turmoil for a few days’ power.

Resident Nicole Hudd said: “You are going to extract coal for nine days of supplies over three and a half years!

“Planning applications should only be granted if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but apart from the one advantage of making money for the developers, I can come up with 101 disadvantages with this scheme.”

Resident Nan White questioned the effect the opencast mining process would have on the health of residents and called into question the research conducted by environmental health expert Dr Tanja Pless-Mulloli.

In the 1990s Dr Pless-Mulloli, now professor of environ epidemiology at Newcastle University, was involved in a review of the health of children living near opencast sites.

According to her findings there was little evidence to suggest they were at an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

But Mrs White claimed that this survey had since been found to be unsafe, adding: “Dr Pless-Mulloli had to admit in later years a conflict of interests; plus these results are now outdated.”

Other concerns raised included the adverse impact of opencasting on wildlife, increased volumes of traffic and the detrimental impact on the landscape, particularly as the site falls within the North Pennines AONB.

Barney Corrigan of HMPD admitted the company was interested in the scheme to make a profit, but insisted residents would benefit in the long run.

After the coal was extracted, HMPD would restore the land for equestrian use, creating woodlands, ponds and wetlands.

He added: “In terms of the site itself, at the moment it suffers instability and that would be sorted out.

“There would also be a viable business there because agriculture does not stack up as a viable business at the minute.”

Responding to criticism that HMPD had been premature in placing a recruitment advert in the Hexham Courant, he said it had simply been a means of gauging interest in jobs at the site if the scheme got the go-ahead.

He said: “It was an advertisement not for jobs but for expressions of interest locally and there have been at least 60 people who have contacted us from Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, and Halton Lea Gate, funnily enough.”

Northumberland County Council has already received 72 objections to the application. Currently consulting with the public and statutory bodies, the council is unlikely to determine the application much before March next year.

From the Hexham Courant

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